Thursday 18 July 2013

Early Thorn moth

While watering the garden earlier, I disturbed a large moth, an Early Thorn, Selenia dentaria. It settled adopting an unusual posture for a moth: wings up together, like a butterfly dangling from a leaf. Its scalloped wings, general tone and pale crescent mark underneath its wings was very reminiscent of a Comma Butterfly. Both species are very cryptic when resting, resembling a brown, shrivelled up leaf. The moth had a turgid abdomen, a female full of eggs. When I tried to pick it up it played dead, or should I say, it played leaf? It clung sideways to the side of the bug pot, occasionally twitching its legs, and then laid on its side at the bottom of the white bowl. I touched it gently and again twitched its legs, refusing to stand up or fly. After half an hour, it hadn't moved. After 45 min, I went to check again. The moth had climbed to the bug pot and had started to lay eggs! I promptly moved it back to the ivy, from where I had originally disturbed it, but I am the proud owner of 10 Early Thorn eggs. I'll give it a go to rear them when they hatch, as they are generalist feeders. There are two generations of Early Thorn, this moth belongs to the second. The larvae look like dead twigs, the adults like dead leaves. There seems to be a logic to it.
Playing dead
Early thorn laying
My bug pot eggs (note to self: I need a new bug pot!)
I left the moth to lay the rest of her eggs outside.

1 comment:

JJ said...

This is fascinating-I often find these moths in my moth trap. Good luck with the ova...